Elton tells OK! Magazine He’s Finally Happily Balanced In Life
In one sense, Elton hasn’t escaped disappointment and sadness. He’s devastated by Gianni Versace’s death: “I’m in deep shock. It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” he says.
But in another sense, buying a home in South France with film-maker partner David Furnish is interpreted as a milestone in Elton’s road to recovery from dark days of cocaine addiction and self-doubt in the 1990s.
When David produced the film “Tantrums and Tiaras” about Elton, it helped forge together their relationship.
David says he couldn’t just stop filming and help Elton when he was in distress: “One time, which wasn’t in the film, was when Elton was playing in Bogota, Colombia. He did a concert in a stadium that was 10,000 feet above sea level. As a result, he came off stage after playing for two hours and 20 minutes and couldn’t breathe. He was doubled over. I was filming him at the time and was very, very worried because I thought he was having a heart attack.”
David continues: “But again I had to keep the camera rolling. We very quickly realised that it was the lack of oxygen that had caused him this problem but there was oxygen backstage. I kept my film-maker hat firmly on and pressed on with the programme.”
Elton’s says he thought the film “brought us closer together because it highlighted a lot of my deficiencies as a partner. There are moments when my behaviour is quite appalling and, even though I can laugh at it now, it probably wasn’t funny at the time.”
David agrees: “(The film) forces you to confront yourself visually, and if you have a self-esteem problem, it can be an incredibly painful process.”
Elton admits low self-esteem is the heart of the problem: “I have a very addictive personality and I’ve always tried to change things in my life, expecting a different result. I’ll move house, have another boyfriend, take a wife, without ever actually addressing the problem I had in the first place.
“The last few years of my life have been about getting rid of dishonesty, about being open. I don’t really have any baggage to carry around with me anymore.
“I was using drugs for 16 years on and off, but towards the end of the 1980s it got pretty bad. Cocaine is a drug that really invades your psyche and it’s a very dark and sinister drug.
“The thing I’m most proud about is just confronting it and actually saying the three words ‘I need help’. It took me 16 years to say those three little words.”
That’s in the past. Overlooking the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) from his new home, Elton is able to say: “I’ve done a lot of work on myself. For the first time in my life, I have peace of mind and a balance in my life.
“As an artist I never really knew how to be off-stage. That’s the same with many artists. To have a private life as well as a public life is difficult to balance out. I think I’ve got that covered now, but it has been very difficult. The thing that really saved my life was the fact that I’ve always toured and I’ve always made records. I didn’t sit in my house just doing drugs and nothing else.”
Elton also speaks warmly about the ‘U.S. Elton’ – Billy Joel – with whom he’s touring in 1998: “Bill and I are great friends. We’ve always respected each other as singers, musicians, and song-writers. You have two pianos nestled back to back and four hours of continuous music, with him and I doing separate things and things together. It’s a lot of fun.”
Elton also brushes off his famous Tantrum in David’s film, that he’ll never come back to the South of France: “You know me – I’m all mouth and no trousers. It’s just one of those egotistical things one goes through when one’s on tour. And, of course, I love it here. And, consequently, I’ve bought a house.”
The house has chic, too. A £5 million three-storey pastel pink villa in the hills overlooking Nice.
[summarised from OK! Magazine, August 22, 1997]